Wednesday, April 8

UCLA summer lecturers face loss of retirement benefits

News, UC

Lecturers who teach summer courses at several University of California campuses will lose access to retirement benefits they have received for more than 15 years.

The UC chief negotiator Nadine Fishel sent a letter March 9 to the American Federation of Teachers Local 1990, which represents UC lecturers and librarians, that said lecturers at UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine have been receiving more generous benefits than required under the collective bargaining agreement between UC and AFT. It also said the UC would stop providing the benefits in summer 2017.

Mia McIver, president of UCLA’s chapter of AFT, said the summer salary benefits are a small portion of the UC’s overall budget but a huge safety net for UCLA’s 85 summer lecturers.

Lecturers have received about $60,000 a year each as summer benefits since 2001, she added.

The UC pays lecturers less, and they are taxed more for teaching the same classes as full-time instructors, she said. She also said the university is straying from its educational mission by cutting lecturer benefits.

A lecturer in the humanities division, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of upsetting the administration and losing her job, said she thinks the summer salary benefit cuts show the university does not value lecturers.

“It’s unjust because it gives the message that lecturers are second-class citizens,” she said.

Lecturers and full-time faculty have the same teaching responsibilities, the lecturer said. She added lecturers dedicate as much time as faculty, but lecturers do not receive as much overtime or money.

“How can the academic world claim that they deliver elite education when lecturers are paid shamelessly low while students pay a high tuition fee?” she said.

She added that because lecturers do not receive medical benefits, most of her savings go toward medical expenses and not retirement.

Mclver said a UC lawyer told her the benefit cuts are not for financial reasons. She added she thinks there is no legal reason why the university cannot continue the benefits.

“(That) makes us wonder if it’s just pure cruelty that’s driving the decision,” she added.

The AFT is negotiating with the UC Office of the President for ways to mitigate the effects of the summer salary benefit cuts because UCOP refused to negotiate the decision itself, McIver said.

UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said in an email that AFT and UCOP are currently negotiating the terms of the benefit cuts, but have not yet reached an agreement.

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